Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Fistful of Dollars

 Score Technician: Alex Pearlstein

Riding out of the desert wastes on a mule and one of the most glorious soundtracks ever recorded, a gun for hire who is either named Joe or nothing at all (Clint Eastwood), sniffs out blood money and incidental heroism as he plays two of the nastiest families you’ve ever met against each other in this film, o supremely holy of spaghetti westerns, A Fistful of Dollars.
  • There are many things about this movie that make it great, but it’s the music of Ennio Morricone that makes it legendary. = +77pts 
  • No one has ever dubbed a more fascinatingly repulsive voice than that of the crying child in this movie. = - 23pts 
  • When you ride into town and pass a dead man with ‘Adios Amigo’ written on a note pinned to his back, then discover the official town greeter is a mad bell-ringer, you may want to reconsider your vacation plans. = +17pts 
  • Being forced to jump off your mule and hang onto a sign post; acting like you meant for it to happen that way. = +12pts 
  • Having the cajones to search for employment in a town where the coffin maker is the only one making any money. = +8pts 
  • Rehearsing your pitch to Don Miguel Rojo out loud to no one in particular as you stride down the middle of Main Street. = +7pts 
  • Always apologize to Clint Eastwood’s mule. = +22pts 
  • Realizing that the Rojos brothers are wearing dark make-up. = -13pts 
  • Sleeping with the bartender on your first night in town. = -3pts 
  • Hello, we’re the evil Rojos brothers. Stick around and meet our brother, “Army wagon massacre” Ramon. = +3pts 
  • Staging the Rojo’s Spanish villa on one end of town, the Baxter’s gothic ranch on the other. = +5pts 
  • Telling someone you’ve “used dead bodies to get out of trouble more than once.” = -5pts 
  • Knocking out Tuco, using only bullets, barn doors, and physics. = +8pts 
  • Knocking out Marisol. = -8pts 
  • At the second appearance of the crying boy, your horror is rekindled. Around the periphery of existence, claws scrape at your consciousness, and a searing pain burns away all the good in which you once believed. Deduct 2 sanity. = -2pts 
  • Being exchanged for ransom, and getting slapped by your Mom in front of everyone involved. = -6pts 
  • When a man with a .45 meets a man with a rifle… = +3pts 
  • Screaming cat running away from gunfight (1:06). = +1pt 
  • The use of Esteban Rojo’s laughter to make him extra evil. = +3pts 
  • Crushing Tuco with the most giantest barrel of gun powder you’ve ever seen. = +7pts 
  • Getting the only bartender in town tortured. = -7pts 
  • The Rojos torching the Baxters’ house, shooting the survivors as they come out, all the while laughing – always with the laughing. = +3pts 
  • Sneaking out of town in a coffin is going on our bucket list. = +12pts 
  • Recuperating in the old mine down the road, building an iron chest plate – also now on bucket list. = +12pts 
  • Of all the dubbed voices, the old coffin maker’s is the best. = +2pts 
  • Appearing out of the smoke after an explosion – if we can accomplish this one, we’ll throw away the rest of the bucket list. = +17pts 
  • Being so overconfident you bet that Ramon won’t shoot you in the head. = +3pts 
  • Not shooting Joe in the head. = -3pts 
  • The ketchup-style blood used in ‘60s film. = +2pts 
  • Joe’s implication that as bad as the Rojos and Baxters were, the Mexican and American militaries are worse. = +13pts (For the sheer ballsiness of it, not because we don’t support our troops. Go troops!) 
Total Score: +167pts
Available on: Amazon rental

If, like us, you haven’t seen A Fistful of Dollars since you were a young’un, it’s worth another viewing. We recall thinking that the fun of the movie was simply watching Clint Eastwood being a badass, but it’s really a jab at the value we place on individualism for profit. We root for Joe because he uses his wit and skill to take out people with fewer scruples than he has, and because he helps out Marisol and her family, but even then, he does so by using her as a wedge to destroy the Baxters and Rojos, and get away with all their loot.

You’ll hear tell that the film is a rip-off of Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, but Leone’s style is so uniquely over-the-top that it doesn’t matter. The combination of Leone, Eastwood, Morricone, and Gian Maria Volont√© as Ramon Rojo, one of the baddest movie villains ever, make the movie legendary in its own right. Even the hokey dubbing adds to its fantastic allure. Except for the crying child – forever will he haunt our dreams. Sometimes at night, we wail in a cold sweat, “Where is Marisol? I want to seeeee her!!!” But let us speak no more of it. Let us all appease our mules and stay sharp - focus on the prize. We’ll get rich here or we’ll be killed. There’s money to be made in a place like this.

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